Guide to Content Marketing for Law Firms
Though 'word of mouth' referrals are always possible, your website is how a large majority of your clients will find you. Many attorneys create stylized websites and assume that's all that's needed in order to draw in new clients. In reality, your website needs several important elements in order to turn site visitors into potential clients.
In the marketing world, we often say that "content is king" when analyzing the effectiveness of a website. In short, what your website says is as important as how it looks. Accordingly, this content marketing guide for attorneys outlines the most important content considerations you can make while planning your law firm's content marketing campaign.
Though no SEO or marketing agency likes to admit it, your homepage is a bit of a dark horse when it comes to the best approach to your content. Some law firms perform well with a homepage that caters to aesthetics over content. Many law firms, however, see better rankings with content of 1000 words or more, and that follows SEO best practices in terms of layout and design.
As a rule of thumb, the most important content tip is to clearly establish what services your law firm offers. If your site's meta description identifies you as a family lawyer, but your homepage doesn't establish that you handle child custody, for example, a visitor may simply leave your site rather than view your practice areas.
The more clicks it takes for a potential client to see if you can help them, the worse your conversion rate will be. Therefore, clearly state what you can do for potential clients in order to avoid confusing or misleading site visitors.
Working in SEO, we see that the attorney bio pages are often what receive the most traffic. Many site visitors are looking to see how experienced you are, your practice areas, schooling, etc. Let's face it, the attorneys are the face of the brand and one of the key selling features of your firm. Therefore, it is critical to focus on the quality of the content of each bio.
That said, many visitors are looking for more than just the standard presentation of information. They want to get a better feel for who you are; thus, your bio should be more than just a few sentences or bullet points. Consider adding both a formal AND an informal photo. Write about your interests. Include a brief introductory video.
Though not all attorneys would benefit from a more personalized bio page, law firms catering to sensitive practice areas such as personal injury, family law and criminal law are more likely to receive positive responses when the attorneys demonstrate their legal authority in an approachable manner.
Most attorneys simply generate a standard contact form that collects very little information from potential clients. A more enhanced contact form, however, prompts more engagement from clients.
Expanded contact forms encourage potential clients to describe why they need legal services a bit more than just asking for contact information. The following questions are some options:
For Personal Injury:
Do you or a family member need a lawyer? State your relationship.
When did the accident or your injury happen?
Briefly describe your injury.
For Family Law:
How long were you and your spouse married?
Did you have a prenuptial agreement?
How old are your children?
For Estate Planning:
Do you already have a will?
Are you considering the creation of a trust?
Do you suspect undue influence? Please explain.
Many potential clients will appreciate your taking the time to get to know them and their case a bit better.
As an added bonus, your client intake manager or whoever assists with scheduling clients will have a better understanding of what will be discussed at your consultations -- and whether the site visitor has a valid claim.
Many law firms overlook the value of blogs. In truth, an entire post could be written regarding why attorneys need to blog. In short, when done properly, blogs assist SEO by reinforcing the existing content on your site. Blogs are also large sources of site traffic, can lead to conversions, assist with brand recognition, and foster backlinks.
If you are already saying to yourself, "I'm not interested. I really don't have time to write blogs," consider starting with just one or two blogs on a regular basis. Depending on your overall marketing focus and goals, you may not need to write more than that on a monthly basis. The key here is to commit to writing quality content that will keep your readers' attention and get them on the other end of your phone line.
In terms of what to write, blogs can -- and should -- present a variety of content topics. Breaking it down, your blog should include subject matter such as:
- Community news that impacts your practice areas -- Example: The installation of a traffic light or crosswalk being placed at a local, busy intersection with additional safety tips and/or statistics.
- Law firm updates -- Case verdicts, new partners, community service, and "get to know the attorneys" are all fair game for this topic.
- Popular culture -- Though these may feel like "fluff" pieces, commentary on the legal matters in the entertainment industry are excellent for social media and traffic. Keep in mind that these don't always have to be salacious topics. Posts discussing the investigations of a celebrity's death or a celebrity custody battle can still demonstrate your legal knowledge while being an entertaining, easy read.
- People Also Ask in Google - Type your topic into the Google search bar and use the questions that populate under the "People Also Ask" banner as topics for your blog posts.
- Google autocomplete - Ever notice when you search for something in Google you will be presented with alternative search phrasing at the very bottom? Those terms and topics are a great place for blog topic brainstorming.
- Educational posts for clients that cover your practice area. – Potential clients are searching for information and evidence that you are a trusted expert. If you can offer guidance without promoting your services, you can develop a level of sincerity. For example: If you are a personal injury firm, potential clients may appreciate a blog like "5 Tips For Keeping Your Teenage Driver Safe"'
The most important tip is to avoid blog posts that mimic a practice area page or should be a practice area page. (Note: practice area pages are often called "core content" or "evergreen content.").
Content that is too similar to your practice area pages could be considered duplicate content by Google. Further, anything that outlines a potential claim shouldn't be a blog, as you'll want site visitors to be able to find the page easily.
Instead, use blogs as "spotlights" for your practice area pages. These can be posts such as:
- Statistics connected to your practice areas
- Comparisons of the types of cases you handle
- Safety tips connected to your practice areas.
- Detailed discussion of a variation of your core content. An example would be a description of a specific birth injury that links to either a birth injury or medical malpractice overview page.
By keeping your blogs narrow in scope, you'll avoid creating content that should have been a practice area page instead.
The Main Event: Your Core Content
In a perfect legal marketing world, a potential client would simply visit the practice area page that corresponds with their claim and contact you right then and there. For example, a person looking to create a trust would click on your trust overview page and then click to call or complete the contact form.
Unfortunately, the process is not as clear-cut as that. Your SEO performance impacts if potential clients will even find your website. Then, once a client finds your website, they need to find your content relevant and persuasive.
In order to tackle all of your obstacles, there are two sets of guidelines to follow: those for SEO and those connected to basic content marketing. The good news is that following one set of principles should also help the other side perform higher.
Content Marketing Tips
- Create a practice areas page for every claim you want to handle. (We like to encourage our lawyers to include a long-form page for their staple services, plus every type of case they want more phone calls about.)
- Write on an 8th-grade reading level
- Avoid legal jargon and statutory language
- Explain how you can help with direct examples
- Provide answers to common questions/FAQs (actually, answer the question; don't give your reader fluff)
- Be honest. Avoid writing anything that may be misleading, questionable and/or unethical
- Create easy to follow menus to allow the client to browse related pages
- Enhance page experience with images, videos, etc.
- Be sure the content is unique and not duplicated elsewhere on the web
- Avoid language that can get you in trouble with your state bar association (expert, specialize, etc.)
- Write the content in a format that is easy for the reader to understand – i.e. avoid long paragraphs with no breaks. Instead, utilize bullet points, headers, and links)
- Avoid self-promotion when producing blog content—the content should be focused on being informational rather than selling your firm.
- Create pages with at least 1000 words of content; 1500 words for competitive keyword phrases
- Each primary keyword phrase should have its own designated page of content
- Create optimized headings that also break up long chunks of text
- Connect pages of related content with internal links
- Be sure each page has a unique and descriptive title tag and meta description.
- Create content hubs with pages of related content to the practice areas that are the most competitive
- Reference your location through the text and headers
- End the page with your phone number (great for mobile reading)
By looking at the lists, you should be able to see the interconnectedness of the two marketing strategies.
Formatting Musts for Law Firm Website Content
When writing your law firm content, you have to throw away your affinity for academic writing or even legal writing. There is no place for legal jargon on your website, and you should avoid long paragraphs like the plague.
Every page you write should include these basic formatting musts:
- Small paragraphs of just a few sentences each.
- Headers (typically H2s) that break up every few paragraphs
- Bullets and/or ordered lists
- A call to action at the bottom of the page with a linked phone number and contact page
- No underlining unless the text is a hyperlink.
So, You Have Good Content in Place -- Now What?
Once all of your great content has been posted, it's time to promote and distribute it. After all, if no one knows your site and blog exist, what's the use, right? There are many ways to approach this – some of which include the use of social media platforms, online forums, email blasts, and various groups such as Facebook Groups and NextDoor. While there are methods that are free to use, many options are available at a cost. For example, if you are interested in promotions that will get more eyes on your website quickly, you might consider purchasing ads on sites like Facebook and Google Ads. There are options to fit many budgets, so don't automatically assume it's out of financial reach.
As this post identifies, each section of your website has its own value and can't be overlooked. Managing a website's content could be quite time-consuming, but your efforts are likely to be rewarded with an increase in potential clients contacting your firm. If you don't take the time to enhance your website, you are wasting the potential of an extremely valuable marketing tool.
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